5 Ways to Balance Vata Dosha
If you are new to Ayurveda and you have no idea what a vata dosha is, check out my last post here for the introduction on the 3 different energies that comprise all of life. Everyone has all three energy types within them at varying ratios, often with one predominate dosha. Ultimate, holistic health of the mind body and spirit is achieved with balance, and balance will look differently for everyone. Below I will talk about how to balance the vata dosha. This will be most helpful for individuals who are predominately vata, or seem to be having an excess of anxiety and/or restlessness. If you’re not sure of your dosha ratio but are interested in finding out there are tons of free online dosha quizes you can take. Check out my favorite free online dosha quiz here.
Vata ( air + ether)
Physical qualities: tall or short, thin in build with more of a tendency towards lower body weight, dry skin, nervous digestion, and constipation. Vata types are also more vulnerable to cold, dryness, and pain in the joints. Movements may be quicker and more jerky or erratic with bursts of energy but poor stamina.
Psychological qualities: more prone to anxiety, fear, restlessness, and inconsistency with moods. Vatas tend to be more sensitive, expressive, and creative. They like to be busy, moving and doing. They are quick to learn and quick to forget. Vatas are typically drawn to novelty and travel. Vata personality types embody ethereal, air-like qualities and may be described as spacey, ethereal, or artistic but when off balance tend towards fear, anxiety, and aloofness.
Signs of Vata Imbalance: anxiety, fear, constipation, or hard dry stool, dry skin, nervous digestion, erratic appetite, excess gas or bloating, racing or scattered thoughts, light interrupted sleep, difficulty sitting still or restlessness which could include nervous twitches or spasms, feeling cold, and achy joints.
Basically, I like to think of vata imbalance as feeling ungrounded, scattered, scared or anxious. If you are predominately vata, you’re signs of imbalance are more likely to be fear and anxiety. You may often blame yourself when things don’t go right asking “what did I do wrong”. Vatas tend to be creative and sensitive. I also think of vata imbalance as an excess of energy, in the body which can show up as quick movements and restlessness, and/or in the mind with racing thoughts, over thinking, difficulty turning your mind “off” when it’s time to wind down for bed.
In Ayurveda, it is said that whatever imbalance we have within us, we will crave that which furthers the imbalance. What this means is when vata is off balance, the individual will often crave things that would intensify the imbalance. For examples, vatas tend to crave quick-moving exercise, unstructured schedules and dry foods. What vatas need are slower, grounding exercise, structure/routine, warming foods, quiet calm spaces throughout their day, less or no stimulants (e.g. coffee), and consistent meals. Individuals I’ve met with vata imbalance, often feel a sense of urgency in getting things done, they have a very minimal routine if any, and feel as though they don’t have the time to pause for self-care or grounding. Often, they try to multitask or do multiple things at once. Interestingly, this pause for grounding is probably what would help a vata to rebalance. Again, the imbalance wants to grow, so it will trick you into making lifestyle choices which perpetuate that imbalance.
How to Balance Vata:
Create some kind of structure or routine. Try to eat at the same time everyday and have a consistent bedtime and wake time (at the very least).
Practice grounding or calming practices. Breath work, meditation, gentle stretching, or journaling are all calming, grounding activities that would be a great way to balance vata. Vatas need time and space to regroup everyday.
Maintain a slow and steady pace. Vatas tend to want to move quickly and inconsistently. If you can slow down, and create a steady, pace for your life, it will drastically reduce vata.
Self Massage with a warm oil. Sesame oil is the most recommended oil I’ve found for vata self-massage because it is supposedly a warming oil, one that contains properties which help to balance out the cold properties of vata. Self-massage is a great grounding practice, that is also about showing the self love (something vatas often need more of).
Seek Warmth. Since vata imbalances tend to show up as cold properties, seeking warmth in all areas of life help to balance out vatas. Eat warming foods with warming spices such as ginger, or turmeric, drink calming hot tea (without caffeine), seek warm weather, and keep your body warm. Cold only exacerbates vata so seeking warmth will help to balance and alleviate some of the vata imbalances.
This was only a brief introduction to the vata dosha, and there’s so much more to learn and many more guidelines to look at for balancing this dosha. Fortunately there are so many great books and websites where you can find out more information.